Thursday, April 02, 2009

Random 0557 musings, or, how having kittens means never having to say...

"Honey, let's sleep in in the morning."

Kittens love to play at night. Kittens love to play in the morning. In fact, kittens (these kittens, at least) play all the time, with short breaks for naps and eating and using the litterbox. It's mostly playtime at all times, though. Which means, between kittens and Max waking me up ("It's four a.m.! C'mon! Time to get up!") I've gotten about....oh, nine hours of sleep in the last two days.

I got an email the other day from a patient's family member. Yes, I do occasionally--very occasionally--give out my email address when I've been taking care of somebody for a really long time and have gotten close to the patient or family. Anyway, the patient's brother wanted me to know that the patient had died.

Just like that. And it was somebody that we all had expected to get better.

Sometimes inexplicable things happen, and you're left holding the various bits of the story, wondering what the hell went wrong. It's hard when it's somebody you've cared for who's been really, really sick and nobody expects them to live, but it's not as shocking and kick-in-the-gut as it is when it's somebody who, two weeks ago, was doing relatively fine.

I mean, they come in sick as a dog, you pop 'em into the ICU, spend a month or so balancing electrolytes and stabilizing them to the point that they won't croak during surgery. Then you do the surgery, and it goes well, and you transfer 'em to acute care. And, in acute care, you spend a couple of weeks (or more) getting 'em up, making them eat on their own, rebalancing their electrolytes, making sure they pee, walking 'em around the hall...and finally discharge them to rehab.

Where they suddenly drop dead. Not the rehab's fault, by the way. Sometimes things happen.

It makes you really good at dealing with loss in a healthy way, I'll say that. If you don't figure out how to handle things well, you won't be working/alive very long. 

If you're me, you lift very heavy things and run in between sets until you're about ready to barf. Then you do lots of heavy yardwork. Then you have a nice dinner with your favorite chef and then play with kittens, and finally go to bed and hope to sleep. When you wake up, it might be three seconds before you remember why you've got that lump in your gut.

And then you pick up the bits and look them over again, wondering what the hell went wrong.

Sometimes people just decide to die. I've seen it happen--where a person makes a conscious decision to kick off, and a day or two later, they're dead. There's not enough time to get them into hospice or even transition to comfort care: they've made up their mind, and that's it. Maybe that's what happened here. Could be.

1 comment:

Chad Estes said...

So sad to hear of your patient dying. You are right, in that when they decide it's time to go, it usually happens fast.

Keep up all of your work. I "called on" nurses in my previous life (career), and have now committed to making a difference in their lives - because they care for SO many.

Be well.